Category Archives: Harlingen

TSTC National Guard Student Deployed for Harvey Relief

(HARLINGEN) – Texas State Technical College student and National Guard reservist Lino Gonzalez was recently deployed to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in coastal East Texas, derailing his plans to attend TSTC for the Fall 2017 semester.

The deployment, originally scheduled for late August through September, forced Gonzalez to withdraw from his Wind Energy Technology classes for fear of falling behind.

However, during deployment his orders changed, and Gonzalez got the opportunity to return home with his wife and two-year-old son earlier than planned. But he had already lost the semester.

“We go when and where we’re needed,” said Gonzalez. “This has in no way discouraged me from coming back.”

The Mercedes native will register to return to TSTC Wind Energy Technology in the spring.Lino Gonzalez

TSTC Veteran Center Director Steve Guevara said that, in accordance with state statutes and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rules, college or university students like Gonzalez who are called to active duty as guard soldiers or reservists have three options. They can choose to receive a full refund of tuition and fees already paid; if eligible, receive an incomplete grade in all courses by designating “withdrawn military” on transcripts; or, as determined by the instructor, receive a final grade or credit if a substantial amount of coursework has been satisfactorily completed.

“We try to assist our active military and veteran students the best way we can,” said Guevara. “Our goal is to help them get the education they deserve and want.”

In Gonzalez’s case, he took the withdrawal option and dropped his courses. He said everything was settled quickly with no penalties, and it was like he never registered for the semester at all.

“Everyone was so helpful,” said Gonzalez. “My withdrawal process was smooth and stress-free, thanks to the help I received from my program instructor David Gomez and Veteran Center staff.”

While deployed, Gonzalez, who is also an Army veteran, helped the communities of Corpus Christi, Victoria, Katy, Beaumont and Port Arthur. He assisted the fire departments with evacuations, search and rescue, and debris cleanup.

“Hurricane Harvey was devastating to many communities and families. What we saw was surreal,” said Gonzalez. “That’s why, no matter the situation, it’s important to me to always help and serve.”

Gonzalez was 22 years old when he enlisted in the Army. The veteran Army specialist served eight years, with two tours in Afghanistan and Korea. During and after his time in the Army he worked as a generator mechanic and provided internet to military bases.

“What I did in the military goes hand in hand with what I’m studying now,” said Gonzalez. “I’m a hands-on learner and worker, and Wind Energy Technology and mechanics is what I see myself doing long term.”

The 31-year-old expects to earn his associate degree in Spring 2019 and looks forward to working as a Wind Turbine Technician.

For more information on the TSTC Veteran Center or Wind Energy Technology, visit

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Celina CasaresThis is Texas State Technical College student Celina Cazares’ first semester in college, but she is already proving herself with good grades and as an active member of the TSTC Service Squad and Agriculture Club.

The Brownsville native is a recent graduate of Lopez High School. The 18-year-old expects to complete her Academic Core by Spring 2019.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m already looking into registered nursing programs. I want to study to be a nurse once I’m done with my academic classes. The idea of me being able to help others is what I love about nursing.

What’s your dream job?

 My dream is to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing, practicing my skills in a hospital or clinic and continuing my education for a master’s degree and maybe even doctorate degree.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far has been being selected for the Student Success Profile honor. It has given me the confidence I need, and I hope someone will read my article and get inspired to enroll at TSTC.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

The greatest lesson I have learned comes from my parents, who always push me to do my best. They always tell me that if I want something to fight for it and not stop until I get it. So every time I run into an obstacle I remember this and I tell myself I can do better.

Who at TSTC has had the greatest influence on your success?

My Anatomy and Physiology instructor, Paul Leonard, and my Diet and Nutrition instructor, Michael Gay, have been my greatest influencers thus far. I love the way they teach and keep us engaged. They make a student want to come to class. And of course I need to mention my best friend since sixth grade, Angie Cruz. She’s also a student at TSTC. She keeps me sane when I’m stressed and is one of my biggest motivators and encouragers.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

I want future and current students to remember one thing: At the end of the day everything you do is your choice and the future is yours, so make the best of it.


TSTC Receives Latest ULA Donation Installment

(HARLINGEN) – United Launch Alliance recently donated $500 to Texas State Technical College’s SkillsUSA Precision Manufacturing 2017-18 competition team.

The donation comes as the latest installment of $168,600 that ULA has already given to the college for student scholarships and equipment.

Ralph Luaces, site lead at ULA Harlingen, said they are ecstatic about being able to help a program that has proven to be effective.

“ULA is happy to support the SkillsUSA program at TSTC,” said Luaces. “The students’ recent success in competition has shown that the program is very effective in developing and preparing students to enter the workforce.”

One of ULA’s largest donations came in 2015, when the company gave TSTC $40,000 for the college’s Challenger Learning Center Planetarium.

TSTC Senior Development Officer Amy Lynch said ULA is one of TSTC’s largest partners and supporters.TSTC and ULA Check Presentation

“ULA supports our college and its students not only with monetary contributions for scholarships but also with tool and equipment donations and by hiring our students,” said Lynch. “They’re a great asset to our college and our community.”

The recent contribution made to TSTC’s SkillsUSA Precision Manufacturing team will be used to fund equipment upgrades for the team’s Urban Search and Rescue robot, SkillsUSA uniforms and blazers, and personal protection equipment.

Just last year, ULA gave $1,000 for the purchase of a new robot kit and additional upgrades that put the robot at a more competitive level, and this year’s donation will help do the same.

The robot had previously been used and upgraded for the 2016 and 2017 SkillsUSA national competitions, respectively.

TSTC Mechatronics Technology student Michael Arreola and recent Mechatronics and Precision Manufacturing Technology graduate Rick Santos were the 2017 Urban Search and Rescue team that used the robot and earned gold medals at the national competition.

TSTC Precision Manufacturing Technology Instructor Rick Limas said it is donations like this one that help TSTC’s SkillsUSA students get to the national level and remain competitive among their peers.

“Industry support is imperative to our younger generation of craftsmen and craftswomen,” said Limas. “It helps our students cross barriers and jump hurdles and gives us insight and knowledge on what employers are looking for so we can get our students hired.”

Limas hopes this longtime partnership with ULA continues to remain strong and steadfast for the benefit of future TSTC students.

“We thank ULA and all of our industry leaders for their monetary, material and training support they provide to our students,” added Limas. “And we hope to continue working with everyone so that we can continue to provide our students with cutting-edge technology that will prepare them to be successful in industry.”

To donate to SkillsUSA and help TSTC students get to the 2018 SkillsUSA national competition, call The TSTC Foundation at 956-364-4500.

For more information on Precision Manufacturing Technology, visit

TSTC Vice Chancellor Takes on Provost Role

(HARLINGEN) – Rick Herrera first stepped foot on Texas State Technical College grounds when he was a student in the 1980’s and he never imagined the success and the family he would find at the college nearly 20 years later.

The San Benito native earned his associate degree from Texas State Technical Institute in 1987, before it became TSTC, in Industrial Data Processing, now known as computer science.

For the next two decades, Herrera had a rewarding career in the manufacturing industry as a programmer, engineering manager, production manager and site director for a maquiladora plant in Northern Mexico.

“At this point it was time to come back home and be closer to my children, so when the opportunity at TSTC presented itself I took it,” said Herrera.

The jump from manufacturing to higher education in 2009 was a change for Herrera, but his knowledge and skill quickly moved him up the ranks.

“Coming from industry it was about working effectively and efficiently to meet stakeholder profit,” said Herrera. “At TSTC, it’s about working for the benefit of our students. It’s important to me that we help them fulfil their version of the ‘American Dream.’”

Herrera is now TSTC Vice Chancellor and Chief Integration Officer and Interim Provost for the Harlingen campus – the highest local position.Rick Herrera

During his time at TSTC, Herrera has served as Director of Administrative Technology, Project Manager in charge of implementing TSTC’s statewide online learning management system and Associate Vice President of Technology Management.

In 2010, former TSTC Chancellor Bill Segura appointed Herrera as Chief Technology Officer before being promoted to his current positions of Vice Chancellor and Chief Integration Officer by TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser in 2011 and 2017 respectively.

“Through the years and in my new positions I’ve had to reevaluate my leadership styles,” said Herrera. “All of my experiences have really opened my eyes to coaching, mentoring and guiding, communicating effectively and applying change.”

Herrera said as provost, internal and external communication is an integral part of his role.

“It is my duty and goal to always ensure that communication is effective to all parts of our organization so that we all work toward the same mission and goals,” said Herrera. “We’ve experienced a lot of change recently and have been fortunate to have employee support and voices to shed light on new or missed opportunities.”

In addition, Herrera said he will also continue to work hard to remain connected to the community and its industries.

“This type of connection is important to keep our programs relevant and ensure we offer those that are in high demand,” he added. “It’s important that we continue to meet the needs of our community and industry while remaining true to our mission.”

In his role as provost, Herrera will conduct outreach and meet with elected officials, economic development representatives, community and industry leaders and TSTC alumni to find out where TSTC can help and to build partnerships that will help the community grow.

For the past eight years, Herrera said being part of the TSTC family has been a great experience like none other.

“TSTC a different kind of place,” he said. “The family-type atmosphere permeates all around whether you’re an employee or a student.”

Herrera said, by working together, TSTC will continue to support student success and make sure that everyone who steps through the college’s door will be trained and prepared to leave with a new or better-paying job in their field of study.

Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Ana EscamillaAna Escamilla is completing her Academic Core at Texas State Technical College. The Rio Hondo native expects to complete her courses Summer 2018.

When the 18-year-old is not busy studying, she is volunteering around campus and her community with the TSTC Service Squad.

Escamilla is also a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), a certification she earned as a junior at Harlingen High School, and has worked in her field as a CNA at Windsor Atrium in Harlingen.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I want to work toward getting into a registered nursing program, and eventually transfer to a local university to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to become a neonatal nurse practitioner. My passion in life is helping others and there is nothing better than helping to nurse a person or baby back to good health.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment so far has been having the motivation to enroll in college. I really wanted to take time off to keep working partly because I was afraid of failure. Coming back has been the best decision I could have ever made.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

I have learned the lesson of hard work from my parents. My parents and I have struggled a lot financially, and seeing them work so hard to support me and help my dreams come true means the world to me. Their hard work is my motivation to be successful. It’s going to be my way of paying them back for everything they have done.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

Steve Guevara, TSTC Veteran Center director, and Jose Villegas, Veteran Center program officer, have had the most influence on my success. My dad is a veteran and I’m using his Hazlewood Act to get an education, and these two men have guided me through the entire paperwork and registration processes.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

The best advice I have for students in general is do not procrastinate. Someone once told me this and from experience procrastination makes life harder. Get things done ahead of time and semesters will not seem as stressful.


TSTC Micronauts Program Explores STEM Education

(HARLINGEN) – Three, two one… lift off. Texas State Technical College’s Micronaut Program at the Challenger Learning Center is launching for its second year in October and is already booking missions.

Yvette Mendoza, TSTC’s coordinator for the Center for Science and Math Education, said this program is about helping elementary-age students increase their understanding and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields.

“We want to plant the STEM seed at an early age,” said Mendoza. “This will open their eyes to the many opportunities that are out there for them.”

The Challenger Learning Center hosts flight missions for junior and high school students while the Micronauts Program is open to kindergarten through fourth grade students from across the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.

“We’ve had schools as far as Falfurrias bring their students to our center,” said Mendoza. TSTC Micronauts Program“Teachers believe in the program and how it benefits their students.”

The Micronauts program offers students the opportunity to learn science with hands-on projects such as building circuit boards, experimenting with kinetic sand, magnets and microscopes, and learning about computer coding and the solar system.

Students also get to experience the Challenger space shuttle and TSTC’s planetarium.

“The best part of this program is seeing how excited the children get walking through our building, riding our space shuttle and doing their projects,” said Mendoza. “The enthusiasm in their voices lets us know this program is a success.”

What makes the program popular among teachers and parents is that each lesson is aligned with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) required curriculum and testing.

“Eventually, everything the students learn during Micronauts will be taught by their teachers in class,” said Mendoza.

The program runs on a school-year calendar, beginning in October and ending in May, giving teachers and schools a chance to book their missions at their convenience.

“This is the first step in STEM education,” said Mendoza. “In the past year more than 5,300 students have visited our center and our goal is to enhance the way each of these students thinks about science and related fields.”

To enroll in Micronauts or for more information on how to book a mission call the Challenger Learning Center at 956-364-4125.


TSTC Nursing Program Welcomes New Class

(HARLINGEN) – The Fall 2017 semester marked a new beginning for the Registered Nursing program at Texas State Technical College and the 30 students who make up its newly formed class.

The students are part of TSTC’s licensed vocational nurse to registered nurse transition program. It’s a one-of-a-kind in Cameron County and has already proved to be a highly-competitive and an in-demand program.

TSTC Vocational Registered Nursing Program Director Shirley Byrd said it was always the college’s number one priority to reopen the program after a two-year hiatus to revamp curriculum and improve passing rates.

“We’re back and ready to produce highly-skilled, compassionate nurses,” said Byrd. “We have a lot of support from TSTC administration and the excitement surrounding this program is immense.”

TSTC’s Vocational Registered Nursing program accepts 30 students per year and the program runs from August to August.

And for many students like Daniel Avila, who had to compete with 60 other applicants to be accepted into the program’s inaugural class, this means a chance at a new career and life for him and his family.TSTC Registered Nursing

Avila, husband and father of two, is already a licensed vocational nurse. He graduated from Rio Grande Valley College in 2013 and works in the home health care sector.

The 25-year-old said TSTC’s nursing program puts him one step closer to his long-term goal of becoming a nurse practitioner and being able to better support his family.

He added he was first inspired to pursue a nursing career after his son spent two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I love what I do right now, but I know being a registered nurse will open doors of opportunity for me,” he said. “I want to be an advocate for patients the way my son’s nurses were for him.”

Avila said he could have chosen to do nursing anywhere, but he chose TSTC because Byrd and other nursing program staff believed in him immediately and were great at communicating what was needed to apply unlike other programs he had looked into.

“TSTC really helps us strive to be our best,” added Avila. “Everyone wants us to succeed, probably more than we want to. This is the setting that will help me be a leader in my field.”

Students enrolled in TSTC’s Registered Nursing program will learn advanced nursing skills such as intravenous (IV) therapy, patient assessment and care planning, in addition to managerial skills.

TSTC nursing students will have access to a new state-of-the-art nursing center on campus with classrooms and simulation labs filled with the latest technologies used in the nursing and medical fields.

“Our goal for this program is to not only teach to have a 100 percent national exam pass rate, but also produce dedicated and compassionate nurses,” said Byrd.

Students who successfully complete the nursing program, must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination, a standardized exam required by the state board of nursing.

Careers in nursing are available at places such as hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities.

As for Avila, he said he is keeping an open mind about what he will do when he graduates in August 2018, but for now added that he is thankful for the opportunity of being accepted into this program.

“So far the program has exceeded all of my expectations,” he said. “This is something I have wanted for a long time.”

Applications for the Fall 2018 class open in March 2018.

For more information on the RN program, call the TSTC Nursing Center at 956-364-4983 or visit


Student Success Profile

(HARLINGEN) – Erika GonzalezTexas State Technical College student Erika Gonzalez is a 31-year-old mother of two who is determined to show her children that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.

The Weslaco native is pursuing an associate degree in Biology and hopes to graduate Spring 2019.

In addition to studying, Gonzalez keeps herself busy by volunteering with the TSTC Service Squad and with the TSTC Cafeteria.

What are your plans after graduation?

After I graduate I will apply for the Dental Hygiene program. I’m a dental assistant and I’m ready to take my career to the next level.

What’s your dream job?

My dream job is to work as a dental hygienist. It’s my passion. I want to help promote the importance of oral health care and help boost people’s confidence by helping them maintain a healthy mouth and smile.

What has been your greatest accomplishment while at TSTC?

My greatest accomplishment has been getting involved and becoming active on campus and in my community. Doing this has helped me break out of my comfort zone and realize new opportunities.

What greatest lesson have you learned about yourself or life?

Going to school, working and being a mom has not been easy, but it has taught me to keep pushing forward and never stop learning. I want to be a good example for my children so I must keep going and make my dreams come true so that they see everything is possible.

Who at TSTC has had the most influence on your success?

Everyone at TSTC has had an influence on my success, from the people who helped me register and my instructors to the folks at Student Life and the cafeteria. They have all given me so much motivation and encouragement. They are always there to help.

What is your advice for future TSTC students?

It’s the same advice I give my children: take advantage of your educational opportunities, never give up, find your passion and make your dreams come true. TSTC is here to help. Faculty and staff truly care about their students.

Bon Appetite: TSTC Culinary Institute Hosts First Cooking Demos

(HARLINGEN) – Get cooking with Texas State Technical College’s Culinary Institute during their first-ever Saturday cooking demonstrations.

There will be four, three-hour sessions available in the fall and scheduled for, September 16, 30, October 28 and November 11 and they are open to the community.

“This is new and exciting for us. It’s going to take our program to the next level,” said Chef Emma Creps, TSTC Culinary Institute lead instructor.

Saturday cooking demonstrations are hosted by TSTC’s Meat Preparations class at the culinary kitchen and dining room where students will prepare dishes using the meat of the day and fresh vegetables while explaining step-by-step preparation procedures and recipes.

For $30, participants will be able to ask questions, learn professional trade secrets and get to taste some great meals.Culinary Arts

Dishes to be featured in the sessions range from chicken cordon bleu, braised short ribs, beef wellington and stuffed pork chops to baby back ribs, grilled salmon and crab cakes.

In addition to enjoying the day’s dish after the demonstration, the paying attendees will receive an apron with the TSTC logo and copies of the recipes they can use at home.

“This is a great opportunity not only for our community, but also for our class,” said Creps.

Creps said she always stresses to her students the importance of not only being great cooks, but also leaders in their profession. So, hosting events like Saturday cooking demonstrations is one way she gives her students real-world, hands-on experience.

“Our students are going to learn to interact with people, take care of their guests and gain confidence through this experience,” said Creps. “Leadership is important and this will help prepare them.”

TSTC Culinary Institute student Antonio Anguiano will be one of sixteen students hosting the cooking events and said he is excited for this chance.

“Something like this gives us great experience and prepares us even more for life after college,” said Anguiano. “We also get to showcase our program to the community and share cooking tips and recipes they can use at home.”

Creps said each session is limited to 20 people, and she encourages the community to come

out and support the Rio Grande Valley’s up-and-coming chefs.

To make reservations for the cooking demonstrations, call 956-364-4754 or for more information on TSTC’s Culinary Institute visit

TSTC Gives Student Chance at Success

(HARLINGEN) – Luis Silva, a stellar student at Texas State Technical College, learned the hard way that a four-year university is not for everyone.

The 23-year-old Mechatronics Technology student started his college career at a local university studying Electrical Engineering because everyone in high school told him he had to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“I was always told I had to go to a four-year school. But that was the right choice for them, not for me,” said Silva. “My grades suffered and so did my confidence.”

The Roma native added that he considers himself a hands-on learner so learning solely from lectures and books was difficult for him.

“I learn by doing,” he said. “And TSTC has been able to provide me with the learning environment I need to excel.”

All TSTC programs are made up of at least 60 percent hands-on learning on industry standard equipment. And, the majority of faculty are seasoned veterans who have worked in the real-world industry.Luis Silva (left) Mechatronics Technology

Today Silva is pursuing an associate degree in Mechatronics Technology, which combines various disciplines within the engineering field, including electrical.

“A large part of my day is working hands-on with machines similar to what is in industry,” he said. “I’m not even close to graduating, but if I were to be offered a job tomorrow I would feel fully prepared and confident.”

Mechatronics Technology Lead Instructor Rolando Leija said he sees Silva going far in his career.

“He has a goal and has his eyes set on companies he wants to work for,” said Leija. “There’s no doubt he’ll be successful.”

The Rio Grande Valley is home to Silva and he hopes to stay in south Texas, but said he keeps an open mind and won’t shut doors of opportunities if they are opened.

Silva’s goal is to work for American Electric, Toyota or Oncor utilities when he graduates in either the electrical, maintenance or machine operations side.

TSTC’s Mechatronics Technology prepares students like Silva for careers in electronics, mechanics, robotics, instrumentation and computer control systems and positions such as electrical engineering technicians, mechanical engineering technicians and electro-mechanical technicians.

“This field is so broad and gives our students a number of career options to pursue,” said Leija. “And because the majority of our training is hands-on our students are highly skilled and ready to be productive in the workforce.”

As for Silva, he said transferring to TSTC was the best decision he could have made for his career and future.

For more information on TSTC Mechatronics Technology, visit